The Sting of Unfairness

Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. Genesis 25:1-6

Even before Abraham died, Abraham’s family was growing quickly. With every child and grandchild, Abraham had to be beaming with joy and gratefulness.

Despite the number of children Abraham had with other women, Isaac was still favored and blessed by God. He wasn’t Abraham’s first, but he was the promised one.

I suspect Abraham sent the concubines and children away was because of how much he favored Isaac. It’s similar to Joseph and his brothers. They were all jealous of Joseph so they actively plotted against him. Isaac’s siblings and their mothers were probably just as jealous.

Again, we see the patriarch Abraham favoring one at the expense of the others. The others never stood a chance. It was totally not fair for the others to be treated that way, but no one was ever promised fairness, despite all those who have tried.

Perhaps you’re feeling the sting of unfairness. We all face it some times. What matters is our response. We can certainly become bittre and take it out on those we love. We could fight it. Or we can acknowledge it, give it over to God and be free from the bitterness. Of course that means we’ll have to give it over to Him often because, despite our greatest efforts, we hang onto this unfairness long after we should. After enough time has passed, we can then wonder what all the fuss was about.

God can help you heal from the unfairness as we give it over to Him as many times as is necessary.

Isaac’s Time in the Fields

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:61-66

There’s one little detail in this passage that makes me think all will be well with Isaac and Rebekah: The Bible said Isaac went into the field to meditate and most probably to pray. Isaac probably knew why his father’s servant was out on a mission so this was a big time in his life. Obviously it was a decision that others made for him so he just had to accept it. But still, it was life changing.

isaac took advantage of a quiet evening to look up into the heavens and pray to the God who made them all. His life was about to get hectic so he might have been taking advantage of any solitary time he could get.

In our busyness and craziness, we need to do that when we have opportunity. Sometimes it’s every day. Some weeks it may only be once or twice.

Praying and meditating on God’s word and his handiwork helps us refocus our priorities. It helps us to get outside of ourselves and ponder deeper, more important issues. If all we are doing is going from crisis to crisis, we do ourselves no good.

Take a few minutes when you can to recharge and pray. Even if it’s five or ten minutes, it’s well worth it.

Good Luck?!

60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.” Genesis 24:60

It’s possible that Laban and Bethuel didn’t know who Abraham was and what he was promised. If they didn’t, then this is prophetic even though I’m certain it was a common blessing for women of child bearing age. It was their parting gift to her. If you think about it, a blessing is not a trivial gift. It’s certainly more valuable than a knick-knack that will just collect dust.

As a society we’ve lost the art of blessing others, which is unfortunate.

I recall a story evangelist Luis Palau told about living in Southern California. Every morning he’d hear parents calling out to their kids, “Good luck today.”

His response was, “Good Luck? Good Luck? Are you kidding me? We have the privilege of sending our kids off with the blessing of God and to pray with them before they leave the house that God will go with them and bless their studies and relationships.”

Similarly, we can easily send others away with a blessing too. Bless others and let them know you’re blessing them. It’s much more exciting and worthwhile than wishing them good luck.

The Return

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. Genesis 24:50-59

Even though Rebekah was still under the care of her father and brother, they asked her to make a decision. She was going with them no matter what, but it was now a matter of timing. She was ready to marry someone she had never seen before and was in a hurry to do it.

She, of course, was relying on the truthfulness of a man she had never met before. It takes a lot of faith to act like that. She would not travel alone but with her own attendants so there was some degree of safety.

the Lord had obviously intervened in the servant’s mission in order to clear the way for Rebekah to come with him. In modern vernacular we might say “all the stars aligned” for it to happen, but we know otherwise.

When we came to faith not long ago or many years ago, we had to have this “reckless abandon.” It was an all or nothing pursuit. We knew that clinging to what we once knew would be be enough.

Think back to those times. What’s changed since then? Life perhaps? Marriage, kids, jobs, sickness, disappointments? Remember what it was like then? Remember the youthful bliss and feelings of peace and joy?

Is it possible to return to those days or are they all gone, never to return again? Only you can answer that.

He Must Increase

28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 “Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”

32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”

“Then tell us,” Laban said.

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’

39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’

40 “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’

46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’

“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.” Genesis 24:28=49

Abraham’s servant recounts his story to Laban, a very common practice in those days. Notice, however, that the servant emphasized that he was doing his master’s bidding. As a servant he stayed true to his master. He kept the focus on Abraham and his will.

There is a lot to be said about that kind of relentless devotion. It was never about the servant even though a great deal of time and ink was spent telling the story. The Book of Genesis’ author doesn’t even name the servant (though many believe it was Eliezer). Even this omitted detail points us to the greater purpose, to keep the focus on the master and his son.

Similarly, as servants of Christ, we point to Him.

As John the Baptist said in John 3:30, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

Answered Prayers

15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”

24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”

26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.” Genesis 24:15-27

Abraham’s servant prayed, Rebekah appeared, and he praised the Lord for answering his request in a manner very similar to his request. From this alone, it would be easy to conclude that prayer is formulaic and rote. But as we noted yesterday, prayer rarely happens like that, and it would dangerous to think that it does.

Have you ever comforted a child when she was afraid because of a thunderstorm or she had a bad dream? What did the child say? Probably, “I’m scared.” And you responded in kind with comforting words and a long hug.

Similary, have you ever prayed those words to God, “I’m scared?” Maybe a spouse was gravely ill or a child ran away. No more words were needed. God, being the loving Father He is, responded based on your need. You didn’t need to tell him the circumstances of your fears. He knew them because He knew you. You didn’t need to give him a laundry list of requests based on that fear. He knew them. And you certainly didn’t tell Him how to answer that fear.

I suspect He answers these types of prayers much more than when we’re directing how He should answer because they come out of pure emotion.

On the other hand, God hears all types of prayers and just wants us to come to Him any way we can.

The Unknown Servant

10 Then the servant left, taking with him ten of his master’s camels loaded with all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. 11 He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.

12 Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.” Genesis 24:10-14

The unknown servant had a plan when he arrived in Nahor: pray where the young women go to congregate. Of course he could have gone closer to town, and did the same thing. He no doubt calculated that eligible young ladies would go there in the evening to get water.

His prayer was simple and straightforward. The entire prayer is specific and was captured for our benefit. Straight and to the point. Even though I don’t know his name, I like this servant. He was a servant willing to do whatever his master asked of him. He wasn’t a matchmaker, but he was willing and he prayed.

His prayer wasn’t lofty or sophisticated, but it triggered a response. God answered his prayer even before he was finished praying.

It would be easy to conclude that prayer is easy: just pray and God will make it happen. We all know that’s not true in the least. We only get a tiny glimpse at this servant and his prayer, but chances were good that he prayed the entire trip. Of course I can’t know taht for sure, but if it were my assignment, that’s what I would do.

Also something to consider: this man was under quite a bit of pressure to get the job done. You could say that the Hebrew nation rested on his success. He knew who Abraham was and what the promised from God were.

The takeaway today is different than prayers or answered prayer.

No, much of what I’ve done is speculate about Abraham’s servant, but we really don’t know him. He played an important role in the birth of the Hebrew nation, but he is long forgotten.

And I suppose that’s the point.

We don’t know people all that well. We know what we see of them but there’s always a side that is secretive and unknown. For some it’s dark and tragic.

What about the people you associate with, do you know them?

A better question might be, do they want to be known?

Do you want to be known by them?

Reassurance

2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”

5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter. Genesis 24:2-9

Abraham charged his servant to find a wife for Isaac in Abraham’s home region. He didn’t want someone from Canaan because they were bad news and had a bad reputation.

Abraham was nearing death when he did this, and he was 137 years old at the time. Because he was nearing death, and by all accounts this was his last will and testament, Abraham wanted reassurance that his wishes would be carried out. He had seen God work miracles in his life and that of his wife Sarah, so he knew God would continue to be faithful regarding his family and lineage. He knew what needed to be done so he commissioned his senior servant to be in charge of carrying it out as was the custom of the time. He knew he wouldn’t live to see Isaac’s bride but he just needed that last reassurance.

Many of you reading this need God’s reassurance in a matter or two. You’ve prayed and sought counsel but still you don’t have peace. The only assurance I can give you is that God will answer your request. He is faithful and will provide for you. You just need to continue walking by faith.

Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you. James 4:8

Blessed In Every Way

Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Genesis 24:1

I love this verse. It sums up Abraham’s life in very few words.

It should also sum up our lives. If you were to pass away tomorrow, does this verse apply to you?

What I’m asking is about God’s blessings on your life.

God continues to bless his children with peace, contentment, a sound mind, joy, and faithfulness to name a few. Of course we are blessed with food in our stomachs and roofs over our head.

In the end, though, this verse is about perspective. Even in horrific situations, we can see the blessings of God if we look for them.

Of course not everything that happens to us is a blessing of God. We’d be foolish to think that.

God can and does use these events for his glory and our growth.

In fact, a New Testament verse paraphrases this verse, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3.